Penny Farthing Championships

People on penny farthings

Bike designs have been adapted and improved over many centuries to produce incredibly aerodynamic bicycle designs with sophisticated features that allow man to travel at phenomenal speeds. A penny farthing is not one of those bike designs. This in no way means, however, that Penny Farthing racing doesn’t exist or that it isn’t the product of fierce and serious competition held in our very own backyard that attracts enthusiasts from all over the world. Because it does, and it has.

People on penny farthings

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The Annual Evandale Village Fair in Northern Tasmania plays host each year to the ferocious competition that is the National Penny Farthing Championships. It also includes a range of events to suit a variety of skill and age levels and a heap of entertainment to keep viewers amused throughout the entire day.

History

The penny farthing was the first mass produced bicycle in England and America and the first to be raced seriously in Australia. It was adapted from the ‘Velicopede’ in the 1870s when it became clear that the larger the front wheel, the further the cyclist travels per turn of the pedal. Evandale, located 20km south of Launceston, is by Australian terms, quite an ancient city with rustic Victorian buildings dating back to the 1820s. Its streets thus make the perfect setting for the fair and make the antique bikes blend in seamlessly.

The first penny farthing championships was held in 1983 and since then it has attracted the world’s top enthusiasts, who hail from all over USA, Europe and Asia. The Evandale Village Fair is internationally recognised as the largest annual event on the globe hosting antique bike races. It also holds the current Guiness World Record for the world’s largest penny farthing racing event.penny farthing

Races

The main feature of the day is of course the National Penny Farthing Championship, in which the top eight riders from the heats battle it out over four laps of  the circuit, equating to distance of one mile. On top of this there are also separate competitions for ladies, underage and veterans and then a number of other more novel races. Some of these include: the slowest race, which determines the top tortoise of the competition, a sprint, relay, biathlon, obstacle and Miss ‘n Out comp, in which a rider is eliminated each lap.

Entertainment

If you’re not the most avid penny farthing rider or supporter, there is also a huge range of entertainment at the festival to keep you occupied. With clowns, puppets, stiltwalkers, pony rides, steam engines, face painting, dancers and bands just to name a few, the Evandale Village Fair and National Penny Farthing Championships will be a wonderful day out for the whole family.

2014 Event

The fair is being held on the Saturday 23rd February next year and will include all of the exciting races and fantastic forms of entertainments named above. Admission is only $12 for adults and free for under 16s so you’ve got no excuse not to partake in one of the events. Start planning your Tassie trip now.

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